Blog Tags: Clean Energy
Earth Day has us contemplating our relationship with the blue planet in years to come. Last week, the latest report on climate change from the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) laid down some stark truths for world: If we don’t make changes to the way we live off the planet’s resources right now, future generations will struggle immensely in order to effectively undo the damage that humans are causing in the present.
Like so many of us, Oceana has seen the damage that the drilling for and burning of fossil fuels can do to the health of our oceans and marine life. In fact, just last May, for the first time in history, the Earth’s atmospheric carbon dioxide levels reached 400 parts per million (ppm). This ominous milestone is a stark reminder of what our stubborn dependence on fossil fuels is doing to our planet. Such dangerous levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are bringing us ever closer to the point of no return, and we are already witnessing its disastrous effects.
Big news for offshore wind! Yesterday, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) held the first-ever competitive offshore wind lease sale in the U.S. off the coasts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The Wind Energy Area, located 9.2 nautical miles offshore, covers about 164,750 acres and is divided into two lease areas, referred to as the North Lease Area, and the South Lease Area, which cover 97,500 and 67,250 acres, respectively. This is an important and momentous step towards developing a clean, abundant energy source in the U.S.
The coal-fired power plants in Las Ventanas in Chile look like something out of science fiction. They loom larger than life over the bay, their pipes extending like the legs of some huge prehistoric spider out into the water where they deposit contaminated waste into the ocean.
It was already dark when we arrived and as I ran my eyes upward along the hulking framework of lights that outlined the interconnected towers and building of the power plants, I realized there were no stars to be seen. Even when I look directly upward I couldn’t see any, as if someone had placed a blackout curtain as far as the eye can see. This is not an illusion, nor is it the result of cloud cover. It is the pollution that is made up of coal dust, smoke and the two billion kilograms of carbon dioxide emitted from these power plants each year.
On Monday, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced that it will auction off nearly 112,800 acres of Virginia’s coastal waters for wind energy development. Scheduled for September 4, the lease sale will be the second of its kind in the U.S., following the auction of approximately 164,750 acres off the coasts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts later this month.
In a speech today at Georgetown University, President Barack Obama laid out his climate plan for the United States moving forward in the months, years, and decades ahead. Oceana was pleased to hear President Obama promoting clean energy like wind and solar energy, but wishes that he had also mentioned offshore wind – a form of energy that is safe for our oceans and its creatures, and forever sustainable.
We asked our Ocean Heroes finalists: If you were elected President, what would be the first thing on your agenda?
They gave us some pretty great answers, check them out below, and don’t forget to vote for your favorite finalist! Who knows, maybe one of our finalists will be running for President themselves someday.
Michele Hunter Stop the killing of all marine mammals throughout the entire world.
Hardy Jones Expose levels of pollution.
Kristofor Lofgren I would change our energy policy, because reducing carbon and oil and gas spills, creates a healthier and less acidic ocean.
Dave Rauschkolb End offshore oil drilling.
Rick Steiner An emergency effort in clean, sustainable energy, and energy conservation, to stop climate change and its devastating impacts on marine ecosystems.
Don Voss Appoint Sylvia Earle Secretary of World's Oceans and give her free reins to establish regulations as needed.
Sara Brenes Ban all shark finning in US, no shark products to be sold, imported or exported, create an ocean world conservation summit to try and make a plan to end shark finning, whaling and overfishing and try to create peaceful and safe ocean pact.
The Calvineers Reinforce the Endangered Species Act, especially the Marine Mammal Act so that NOAA would be better funded and more efficient at protecting marine mammals from human made dangers.
Sam Harris No killing sharks on this earth ever!!!!
James Hemphill Ban the chemical BPA from plastics to reduce the human input of toxins in the ocean.
Teakahla WhiteCloud I would ban all long-line fishing and trawler fishing and make sure all ocean laws are strictly enforced and make all reef systems National Parks.
Only a few more days of voting are left, tell us your favorite finalists today at oceana.org/heroes!
Photo Credits (clockwise from top left): Oceana/Juan Cuentos, Oceana/Maria Jose Cortex, Oceana/Carlos Suarez, Kip Evans Photography, Oceana/Carlos Suarez, Oceana/Carlos Suarez, Oceana/LX, Oceana/Juan Cuentos, Oceana/LX, Oceana/Juan Cuentos, Oceana/Enrique Talledo.
To be an Ocean Hero, you have to have a strong commitment to your work—so what keeps our finalists going when the going gets tough?
The voting is open for our 2012 Ocean Heroes Awards, but if you're having a hard time deciding who your favorite finalist is, here's a chance to get to know them better.
Each of our finalists has their own unique story about just what it is that motivates them to protect the world’s oceans. Here’s what they told us keeps them working hard to achieve their goals:
Michele Hunter Sometimes it's witnessing the small steps a critical patient will take because of the dutiful care and treatment we provide to our patients. Knowing that all those hours of care made a difference. Being able to stand on the beach with your team and release an animal that you helped save is motivation enough!
Hardy Jones Frankly, what motivates me is the undeniable need for reform of the way we view and deal with the oceans. There is real danger of a collapse of the ocean ecosystem. Other motivation comes from direct contact with the magnificence of the ocean realm. Finally, I am motivated by the knowledge that I can make a difference if I put out the energy and intention to accomplish important goals.
Kristofor Lofgren I want to live in a healthy and beautiful world. I also want to do all I can to share that wonderful world with others. I am motived each and every day to help make the world a better place for everyone I never meet, simply because it is the right thing to do. We all breathe the same air, drink the same water, and share the same earth. I choose each day to bring passion to simple, good work...and that is enough.
Dave Rauschkolb The unapologetic grip the dirty fuel and nuclear industries have on our world, and seeing that clean energy and renewables are beginning to break that grip.
Rick Steiner I'm motivated by knowing the desperate state of the oceans, seeing my favorite seas and coasts lost to human ignorance and greed, and facilitating the successes I've been involved with. There is simply no other option but to ramp up the science-based advocacy for ocean protection -- and that is a powerful motivator. It is urgent to act, not just talk about the problem. Knowing we can, and must, succeed.
Don Voss I am motivated by the thousands of kids I talk to each year who are interested and react to this project. I help at least 25 new divers a year get started and into this sport and debris collection. I am motivated by the progress in removal and changes in water quality we are finding just this year. I am motivated when others notice what we do and want to participate and/or learn more. I am motivated when we continue to release thousands of snagged and trapped aquatic animals. I am spiritually motivated when I visit our Turtle rescue hospital and visit the critters we have sent there. Turtles are awesome and send me home an activist.
Sara Brenes I am so passionate about my belief and my drive to make a difference. I feel like I breathe, eat, sleep, and dream about sharks and our oceans. I think it is just hard wired in to me to not give up and to fight and fight and fight and reach another person and another person and another one. Just don't stop!
The Calvineers The North Atlantic right whale is the most endangered large whale in the world. Their population has grown little in the last thirty years (from about 300 to about 450), way below the estimated 2-3,000 needed for recovery. Until the whales recover, the Calvineers will keep up their work of educating the public.
Sam Harris I do it for the sharks. I love them.
James Hemphill My love of the ocean keeps me going. This is a problem that will not go away. As long as there is a large human population, there will be conflicts with the environment that need solutions. I want to be a part of those solutions. I have a stubborn determination to see cleaner oceans. This is where I play, swim, surf, fish, and kayak. I want my children to experience the same beautiful environment that I have.
Teakahla WhiteCloud Knowing that I am saving hatchlings so that the ocean will continue to live so that I will have a future to live.
Don’t forget to visit oceana.org/heroes and vote for your favorite adult and junior finalists. There’s less than a week until the voting period is over!
Photo Credits (clockwise from top left): Courtesy Hardy Jones, Oceana/Dustin Cranor, zeroXTE.com, Oceana/Carlos Minguell, Courtesy James Hemphill, Oceana/Eduardo Sorenson, Courtesy Sara Brenes, NOAA, Courtesy Michele Hunter, Courtesy Kristofor Lofgren, Flickr/Nemo’s Great Uncle (middle).
Offshore wind development got a huge boost last week when the Department of Energy announced that it would provide $180 million in funding to support four planned offshore wind farms off the U.S. Atlantic coast.
To get the ball rolling, $20 million of this funding is being released in 2012, which is great news for offshore wind development at a time when Congress has been floundering on clean energy.
These funds will be used to support innovative strategies that, in the long-term, will help cut the costs of developing offshore wind. The Department of Energy’s support for offshore wind comes at a time of strong public support for offshore wind in coastal states, such as in New Jersey, where it has a 77% approval rating among shore residents.
The Department of Energy has been helping to streamline the permitting process through a process called “Smart from the Start”, which helps promote responsible development of offshore wind in accordance with environmental factors as well as recreational and commercial use of ocean resources.
Oceana has been highly engaged throughout this process as an environmental stakeholder to make sure offshore wind is developed both efficiently and responsibly in order to gain the clean energy benefits of offshore wind in a way that protects marine wildlife.
Oceana is an event partner for the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) Offshore Wind Conference in Baltimore, MD next week, October 11-13.
I’ll be at the conference representing Oceana, and I’ll be speaking on a panel about stakeholder engagement, which will focus on how best to engage and educate key stakeholders in the offshore wind development process.
Why is Oceana such a strong advocate for offshore wind, anyway? Here are a few big reasons:
- Because we have seen the damage that drilling for and burning fossil fuels can do to the health of the oceans and marine life, and we must find a better way to satisfy our energy needs.
- Because windmills harness a clean and infinite source of energy, while eliminating the risk of deadly oil spills and creating three times as many jobs as the oil industry.
- Because we believe that the environmentally safe and responsible development of offshore wind is one of the best chances we have as a country to end our addiction to fossil fuels and to finally stop the dangerous practice of oil and gas drilling in our oceans.
- Because we believe that, if sited correctly, offshore wind could be the ocean-based part of the solution to climate change and its "evil twin," ocean acidification.
- Because Oceana is in a unique position as both a stakeholder in the process and an advocate for offshore wind to the stakeholders/decision-makers in Congress, where we engage and educate congressional staff on the benefits of offshore wind. We collaborate with other environmental organizations and the offshore wind industry to advocate for legislative policies that help promote the development of offshore wind.
At last year’s conference, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar signed the first U.S. lease for offshore wind development, and since then, he and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu unveiled a National Offshore Wind Strategy. The plan includes the deployment of 10 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2020 and 54 gigawatts by 2030, and Salazar and Chu announced $50.5 million in funding opportunities for projects that support offshore wind energy deployment.
In other words, it’s an exciting time in the world of offshore wind – and we’re thrilled to be a part of the action.
You can help, too! Tell your senators to replace dirty oil drills with clean windmills.
Nancy Sopko is an Ocean Advocate at Oceana.
- CEO Note: Four Years After the BP Gulf Disaster Posted Mon, April 21, 2014
- Drill, Spill, Repeat? Posted Mon, April 21, 2014
- Wind Power: Changing the Way We Live off the Earth Posted Tue, April 22, 2014
- CEO Note: NYC Event Honors Michael Bloomberg Posted Wed, April 23, 2014